Conference Announcement: Morality and God: What's the Connection?


Saturday, June 14th, 2014
Centre for Philosophy of Religion
Loyola Hall
Heythrop College, London


10.00 Registration

10.30 ‘Moral realism and God’
Dr Fiona Ellis (Heythrop College)

11.45 Coffee

12.15 ‘Morality and the transcendent’
Professor John Cottingham (Heythrop College)

1.30 Lunch (Provided)

2.30 ‘Løgstrup’s ethical demand: religious or secular?’
Professor Robert Stern (University of Sheffield)

3.45 Coffee

4.15 ‘The tribute of faith: faith as moral gesture’,
Professor John Schellenberg (Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, Canada)

5.30 Close


To register Please send your full name in an email to with 14 June as header, indicating your fees category (see below).

U of L faculty/students – no charge

Students - £5; Concession and HAAS - £10;
Standard - £20.

New Paper on Collins' Fine-Tuning Argument

Saward, Mark Douglas. "Collins' Core Fine-Tuning Argument", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (forthcoming).

Here's the abstract:

Collins (The Blackwell companion to natural theology, 2009) presents an argument he calls the ‘core fine-tuning argument’. In this paper, I show that Collins’ argument is flawed in at least two ways. First, the structure, depending on likelihoods, fails to establish anything about the posterior probability of God’s existence given fine-tuning. As an argument for God’s existence, this is a serious failing. Second, his analysis of what is appropriately restricted background knowledge, combined with the credences of a specially chosen ‘alien’, do not allow him to establish the premise Pr(LPU∣NSU & k′)≪1 .

Important New Paper on the Problem of Evil

Kodaj, Daniel. "The Problem of Religious Evil", Religious Studies (FirstView Article pp. 1-19. Published online: 25 April 2014. DOI: Kodaj is Co-winner of the 2014 Religious Studies Postgraduate Essay Prize.

Conference Announcement: Faith and Reason: Themes from Swinburne


Faith and Reason: Themes from Swinburne

Thursday, September 25 2014 - Saturday, September 27 2014
Purdue University
United States

We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for “Faith and Reason: Themes from Swinburne,” a conference to be held at Purdue University, September 25-27, 2014. Details about registration, lodging, and the schedule of events can be found online at the conference website. We encourage you to register for your hotel room soon to be sure you are able to secure the best rate and location for lodging. This conference is organized by Michael Bergmann and Jeffrey Brower and sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, Purdue University, the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Philosophy of Religion, and the Society of Christian Philosophers. 

The ten main speakers at the conference will be:
- Marilyn McCord Adams, Rutgers University/Australian Catholic University
- Paul Draper, Purdue University
- Hud Hudson, Western Washington University
- Jonathan Kvanvig, Baylor University
- Alvin Plantinga, University of Notre Dame/Calvin College
- John Schellenberg, Mount Saint Vincent University
- Eleonore Stump, Saint Louis University
- Peter van Inwagen, University of Notre Dame
- Nicholas Wolterstorff, Yale University
- Dean Zimmerman, Rutgers University

Our guest of honor, Richard Swinburne, will also be in attendance as will twenty other philosophers of religion who are also on the conference program.

Further details here.

Defeasible Reasoning in Cosmological Arguments for Theism and for Naturalism


Perhaps one of the most important recent innovations with respect to cosmological arguments is the application of groundbreaking work in defeasible reasoning to the formulation of their core explanatory principles (Cf. Joshua Rasmussen and Robert Koons). Defeasible causal and explanatory principles have the following basic form:
(DP) Normally, entities of type T have a cause or explanation.
The "normally" operator indicates that it is a default explanatory principle. Principles of this sort may or may not have exceptions; they are general rules of thumb. From a dialectical point of view, default principles may be preferable to ordinary principles for at least two reasons: (i) they're more modest than unqualified principles, and thus easier to justify, and (ii) when justified, one can't reject the implication that they apply in the given case at stake unless one has a good reason to think that they don't in that very case;  unlike unqualified principles, not any old counterexample is going to do the trick. In this way, they shift a very strong burden of proof onto the "skeptic".

As mentioned above, both Koons and Rasmussen have proposed default causal/explanatory principles in their versions of the cosmological argument. Here they are:
(DPK) Normally, a wholly contingent situation has a cause. 
(DPR) Normally, for any intrinsic property p that (i) can begin to be exemplified and (ii) can be exemplified by something that has a cause, there can be a cause of p’s beginning to be exemplified.
It seems to me that there are arguments for naturalism that should likewise be revised in light of these advances. Here's an example. On previous occasions, I have appealed to a principle of material causality to argue that classical theism is false:
(PMC) All concrete objects with originating or sustaining causes have material causes of their existence.
So far as I know, PMC has no clear counterexample. However, the sorts of considerations sketched above lead me to think that I need not appeal to a causal or explanatory principle anywhere near as strong as that. Rather, I can just rely on a weaker default version of the principle:
(DPMC) Normally, objects with originating or sustaining causes have material causes of their existence.
Then if we replace DPMC for PMC in the previous version of my argument, we get:
1. If classical theism is true, then the universe has an originating or sustaining cause (or both) without a material cause of its existence.
2. Normally, concrete objects (or collections of such) that have an originating or sustaining cause (or both) have a material cause of their existence.
3. The universe is a concrete object (or collection of such).
4. Therefore, classical theism is false.
Assume DPMC is warranted, along with the other premises. Then as with the cosmological arguments that deploy DPK and DPR, the only way for one to rationally resist the conclusion is to give an adequate reason for thinking the principle does not hold in the crucial case in play, viz. the origin or existence of the universe. Not any old counterexample is going to cut it. 

The Onion on Divine Hiddenness

Here. Their previous piece on the topic can be found here.

(Readers of this blog of course know where to go for the real deal.)

What God Would Have Known... the title of J.L. Schellenberg's forthcoming book , which offers a large number of novel arguments against Christian theism. I...